27 December 2013

25/12/2013 Clearing the shelves again

Last chance to pour those for adc, who happens to be in town.

Kinclaith 20yo 1965/1985 (46%, Cadenhead's) (me): same impressions as here. Fantastic drop of whisky.

Glen Keith 1993/2009 (43%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice) (me): nose: green and slightly bitter, with a bit of sparlkling soda and tame herbaceous eau-de-vie. Green beans (?) lime (calamansi). Mouth: lively, but easy. Vanilla and chou dough, mostly. Finish: a contained explosion of exotic fruit (pomelo, pink grapefruit), with perhaps a pinch of sawdust. A little simple, but well nice. The finish is superb and unexpected.

Ord 15yo 1996/2011 (57.3%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Hogshead) (JS): sparkly again, but also much more woody (sawdust). Mouth: yup, lots of pine-dust action while drinking a pint of milk. Very smooth texture, once the alcohol dissipates. Finish: very warming, with pine dust, before fruit juice settles in (peach or apricot, I can never tell). This benefits greatly from the contact with air.

Blair Athol 27yo 1975/2003 (54.7%, OB Rare Malts Selection) (me): nose: clay-floored dunnage warehouse, roast chicken (really!?) Mouth: flat cola, now. It is surprisingly soft, today -- perhaps the sample is evaporated? Finish: nope, the power is there. Some cola, pine dust, a hint of tame coffee. This is a very nice malt and the best Blair Athol I have had (thanks patgva for the sample).

Isle of Jura 30yo Camas an Staca (44%, OB, b.2012) (me): nose: chocolate and coffee. Mouth: latte, or macchiatto -- firmly in the coffee family. Finish: cocoa beans, roasted coffee. Pleasant, but does not justify the price tag. Having said that, it is hard to form a definitive opinion with such a small amount of liquid, unfortunately (the bottle was nearly empty).

Benromach 1968 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b.1980s) (me): nose: burnt cake aplenty. Burnt paper, burnt dough, precious liqueur -- this is unexpectedly big, full of pleasant sherry. A faint farmyard impression shines, leaving way to bonded warehouse scents. Mouth: coating, syrupy, packed with varnish, all sorts of dried fruits (raisins, dates, figs, oranges -- very black bun-y). It remains surprisingly powerful too! Certainly feels closer to 55% than its mere 40%. Finish: a little tobacco in the back (cigar), but mostly dried fruits again (raisins, dates, orange rinds) and some dust (OBE?) as well as Christmas pudding. This is very sherried indeed, yet so well balanced! No saddle-licking here. Very well made.

Glenturret 34yo (47.6%, BBr Selected by Berrys', Cask Ref 2) (adc): this one is newly open. Nose: some warehouse scents, some fruit (peach, mostly) and a whiff of vanilla. Not too assertive after only minutes out of a new bottle. Frangipani flower (plumeria), apricot tart and some citrus. Wonderful nose that needs a little time to open up. Mouth: pepper with lovely, milky peach nectar. Finish: lots of fruit again (peach, apricot, even papaya) and a dash of wood for good measure, balanced with a horseradish kick. Lovely dram!

24 December 2013

14/12/13 Supper at Albanach

After spending a day in Pitlochry, we are back in Edinburgh for a dram or two with a nice supper.

anCnoc 30yo 1975/2005 (50%, OB) (JS): nose: behind the vanilla, there is a basketful of fruit (physalis, starfruit, maybe even sharon/persimmon and pomelo), rosewater. Mouth: slightly bitter attack (or is that the kick?), with ginger powder, but also as creamy as can be. Very balanced and interesting. Finish: more powerful than expected, this. Sprays of pepper with the vanilla and fruit. I get banana and pears, now, as well as more starfruit. Superb and complex dram, if maybe a little too drying in the aftertaste.

Ardbeg 1978/1998 (43%, OB) (me): I have and love the 1999 edition, so, even though a back-to-back comparison is not possible (I am not carrying my bottle around), I feel I have to find out if this one is as good. Nose: peat, of course, but it is very much kept in check. Lots of balsamic vinegar and many sorts of seafood -- smoked kippers, grilled periwinkles, a little fishing boat in a little harbour, drying fishing nets, sea spray, as well as a growing farmyard feel. After a while, it is a full-on farmyard. Haystacks, grazing cattle with seashells before fruit also makes an appearance (quince, almonds, gooseberries, plums). "Ardbeg 1978. Approchez-le de votre nez, vous sentirez la mer." Mouth: a symphony of sweet and sour. Moscovado sugar melted in a dash of noble balsamic vinegar -- Modena, of course. Smooth and satin-like. A very appealing mouth. Finish: tarry ropes, engine oil on a fishing boatand still that pesky vinegar with a touch of plant-stem juice. Neverending too. Excellent, top-of-the-shelf dram.
Balmoral chicken
A "light" supper

With those, I have Balmoral chicken (chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and stuffed with haggis) with mashed potatoes, while JS has a carrot soup and a goat's cheese salad.

18 December 2013

12/12/2013 A couple of drams at the SMWS Edinburgh

When in Edinburgh, visiting the Queen Street venue goes without saying. Only JS and I, this time, which is just as well, because the place is packed to a point we have a hard time finding seats for two. Besides, there is live music. A guy and a guitar, playing folk-ish songs and Christmas sing-alongs. One of the good things about the SMWS is there is no music or television, so this comes as a cold shower. It is way too loud too, which sort of kills any social interaction while he plays.

96.7 7yo 2006/2013 For a sweet tooth (56.3%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 187b) (me): first SMWS GlenDronach for me. They have been offering a long string of firsts, this year, which is very exciting indeed. Nose: young spirit (well, it is 7, is it not?) Lots of feints, then coffee, burnt cake and feet. Mh. Mouth: mellow and spongy. Finish: caramel custard first, then lots of red pepper lasting for a very long while. This one is pungent and anaesthetising. Slightly more pleasant and fruity with water, but it is probably too young to be good.

125.71 6yo 2007/2013 Chocolate Coke Float (58.7%, SMWS Society Cask, New French Oak Hogshead, 265b) (JS): nose: chocolate milk with herbs and a hint of vanilla in the back. Mouth: pretty indistinct. Finish: some nectarines, unripe pear and lots of drying alcohol. Almonds too. Unconvincing.

The live music ends, phew. The staff thinks it is time to switch on the iPod -- WTF!!??!?!

I want to have an older bottlings, now. Five of them behind the bar, including the two Glen Albyn I tried last time. They have 80.3 and another I am interested in. After sniffing both, I go with this.

91.17 9yo 1992 A game of two halves (60%, SMWS Society Cask, 197b) (me): a lesser-seen distillery. Nose: pine dust and lots of alcohol. Maybe I should have gone for 80.3 after all... Cedar wood, cypress. It makes me think of Indochinese cuisine, for some reason -- Cambodian, Thai, Viet Namese. Mouth: mellow, with vanilla-tainted pine-wood juice. Finish: round, with enough pine dust to give it movement. More of a curiosity, this.

Disappointing experience, innit.

3 December 2013

30/11/2013 A few drams to cheer up idealrichard

The only date idealrichard could make this side of the new year. No one else is available, but what the hell?

Balvenie 15yo (47.8%, OB Single Barrel, C#7953) (idealrichard): nose: sexy as can be. Honey, white wine, raspberry eau-de-vie, vanilla pudding and pink bubblegum. Mouth: soft and easy. Finish: smooth, appealing, sweet and light as a crêpe, certainly not long in an invading way, but fantastically agreeable.

Glendullan 12yo (47%, OB, b.1980s) ( (me): nose: hay, grain, even, hops, then lots of varnish. We both think it is close to grain whisky, to a large extent. Mouth: yeast, Ryvita bread and sparkling beverage (root beer?) Finish: quite earthy (idealrichard), with loads of root beer, still close to a grain. Best 'dullan I have had, I reckon. It is not a spectacular malt, but interesting and certainly not dull, for once.

Inchgower 30yo 1982/2012 (51.9%, Berry Bros Selected by Berrys', C#6985) (idealrichard): I tried that one a while ago and liked it a lot. Nose: lush grass, quince eau-de-vie, decaying pears, cooked ham, but also freshly-cut pear and a hint of chocolate. Mouth: lots of grass alongside forsythia wood. Finish: milk chocolate with a splash of coffee and some flower-stem juice. Refreshing. I still like it.

Tomatin 35yo 1978/2013 (44.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 594b) (me): nose: cola, soda bread, fruit. Mouth: balanced, sweet, with flat cola again and a lot of fruit. Finish: lingering praline, fleeting hiking boot and decaying cherries. Not taking too many notes, since I have tried it recently. Great dram.

Craigduff 40yo 1973/2013 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, Refill Sherry Butt C#2516, 616b) (me): leftovers from the show. Nose: grilled bacon in a carbonara sauce, cured ham, then some wood and sizzling butter. It is slightly smokey, but would not show it if drunk amongst big peaters. Mouth: still lively ("green" would be too strong a word), with a reasonable amount of pepper, honey and flowery juices. Finish: tons of pastry in the back before the after-taste kicks in, a mixture of flower and honey. Classy.

Ardmore 25yo b.2008 (51.4%, OB) (idealrichard): one of the many highlights of the show last year. idealrichard finally gave in and bought it -- yay! Nose: not too far from the Craigduff: grilled bacon, cured ham, light smoke and some hidden delicateness. Farmyard makes an appearance in the back. Mouth: peppery, quite punchy, but balanced. Finish: peat and fruit, mud, log fire, with a touch of cherry and strawberry, though the fruit is more subtle than in my recollection. Lovely drop, this.

Brief tasting, good times.